This ORAC test represents the average for all varieties. When you compare this ORAC to other fruits, are pineapples good for you?
Most tropical fruits share two characteristics. For one, they often have more sugar content than those which grow in colder regions like apples, pears, and blueberries. Secondly, they tend to have lower ORAC values. More sugar and less antioxidants isn't the healthiest combination to have, right?
Putting up some numbers really demonstrates this. the ORAC of gala apples with skin, which is one of the most common varieties consumed, is 2,828. That's over 7x the number you see above for pineapple. Raw strawberries are 4,302.
Okay so obviously, it's not fair to compare pineapple versus those coming from the colder climates, but how does it match up against its own peers found growing in the tropics and sub-tropics? Raw banana is 795, red guava is 1,990, kiwi is 862, and papaya is 300. Compared to most, pineapple still loses.
Does that mean they're bad for you? Saying that would be a stretch. One health benefit of pineapples is an enzyme it has, bromelain. It's a powerful anti-inflammatory which has been heavily studied, so there is plenty of research and studies to support that claim (1). When less inflammation is present, symptoms related to some inflammatory diseases like osteoarthritis are known to benefit. Germany's Commission E, which regulates herbal treatments, has labeled this enzyme as being useful for relieving the symptom of inflammation after surgery.
The presence of this unique enzyme may be the best argument as to why raw pineapple is good for you. Even though it's low on antioxidants, it contains bromelain which is not found in any other fruits. Bromelain is proteolytic enzyme, which means it breaks down proteins into their individual building blocks - amino acids - which is the form our bodies need in order to absorb them. For that reason, bromelain has also been associated with having digestive benefits. The reason fresh and raw is better versus juice is because bromelain is sensitive to heat, so the pasteurization which is used in packaged juices destroy some or most of the bromelain. That holds true whether you buy it in a can, a plastic bottle, or the refrigerated section.
Can you eat too much of it?
Is it bad to eat pineapple everyday for its bromelain? That depends. Some people experience heartburn or diarrhea when they eat it in abundance. If you're one of them, then obviously daily consumption probably would not be smart. If digestive side effects aren't an issue for you, then is it good or bad? Good, so long as you eat it in moderation and remember that it does have high sugar and low antioxidants. With the exception of vitamin C and the mineral manganese, it doesn't offer much in terms of vitamins and minerals, so you shouldn't be depending on it for many other nutritional benefits.
USDA Database for the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) of Selected Foods, Release 2 - Prepared by Nutrient Data Laboratory, Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center (BHNRC), Agricultural Research Service (ARS), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) - May 2010